Angry youths in Mangu have blocked the only road leading to Jos to protest alleged refusal of electoral officers to release the results of the Plateau local governments elections held on Wednesday. The youths have refused all entreaties to vacate the road, and have vowed to remain there until the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), announced the outcome of the polls.
Trouble started Wednesday night when the Returning Officer for the local government, Mr. Christopher Beten, General Manager, Plateau Environmental Protection Agency, started the collation of results from the wards, but abandoned the exercise midway.
“The official had collected results from some wards when a call came. He immediately told the agents and other ward returning officers waiting to take their turns, that he had been summoned to Jos,” a security source said.
The source said that the caller also spoke with the Electoral Officer in charge of Mangu Local Government, Mr Hosea Plang, as well as a senior Police officer maintaining law and order at the centre, adding that the trio left the collation centre few minutes later.
“This happened last night, but since they left, we have not seen any of them.
“We suspect that they want to manufacture figures and announce same in Jos. That is why the youths are angry and have reacted by blocking the highway to demand for the declaration of the results,” the source said.
Following the youths’ action, motorists coming from Shendam and Langtang axis have been stopped from moving to Jos, while those from Jos are massed up on the other side, waiting to be allowed to move.
A spokesman of the youths, who gave his name as James, said that the road would remain blocked “until the Returning Officer comes back to declare the result of yesterday’s election”.
“We, the youths of Mangu, will not allow any car to pass through Mangu town until the needful is done by PLASIEC officials that conducted the local governments elections yesterday (Wednesday),” he said.
Contacted, Mr Terna Tyopev, spokesman of the Plateau Police Command, confirmed the protest, but said that security personnel were trying to calm the youths.
“We are trying to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand.
“The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in Mangu has confirmed the whole situation to me, but we are doing our best and have appealed to the youths to be peaceful in their protest,” he said.
A similar situation is brewing in Pankshin Local Government where the PLASIEC Returning Officer has yet to show up at the collation centre as at 8.22 a.m. this morning.
“We have just brought results collated from the wards to the local government collation centre, but there is no single PLASIEC official around to receive them,” Mr Samuel Goar, a former chairman of the local government, said on Thursday.
According to him “there appears to be some sinister move by PLASIEC and the state government to manipulate the election in favour of a political party, but we shall not accept such manipulation”.
He said that candidates worked very hard for success at the polls and should not be robbed of the fruits of such labour
Also Speaking, Mr. Dom Joseph, an official of the PDP, decried the attitude of PLASIEC officials, declaring that such behaviour was “shocking, disturbing and uncalled for”.
“We suspected some foul play when they started sharing the sensitive materials and distributed duplicated copies of the results sheets instead of the original, to the 20 wards.
“Since last night, we have been waiting for the PLASIEC officials, but none has surfaced so far. I have never seen a situation like this,” he said.
Mr Benedict Shiknughul, PDP Vice Chariman, Plateau Central, in Mangu said that the situation was “scary”.
“What we have gathered is that PLASIEC has been told not to announce any result at the collation centres. The ploy is to cook figures and announce same in Jos. We are surprised by what is happening because the tension it is generating is not good for the security situation in Plateau,” he said.
Contacted, Mr Joshua Pesun, PLASIEC commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, refused to comment on the development.
“I cannot comment on this matter. Please contact the Chairman of the commission,” he said.